Saturday, October 5, 2019

Murder On 29th Avenue

A Northeast Portland neighborhood was shaken the other day by the catastrophic loss of a Douglas fir tree, cut down in its prime.

The deed was undertaken with deadly efficiency by a hit squad of three young men who had clearly done this sort of thing before; not a branch was seen to hit the crappy house of the crappy homeowner who hired them, who got away scot-free, except for abrasions to his soul.

Not much is known about the perpetrator. Neighbors report that he kept to himself, but not quite as much as they'd like. He has a fondness for two-stroke engines and noise, an enormous truck, and a small wiener, probably climaxed a minute into the sound of the chainsaw, and is widely rumored to be a Republican.

Penthouse resident Chucklehead the Crow reports she had just returned from her nightly roost downtown to discover her home being reduced to toothpicks. Chucklehead is a particularly valued member of the community, entertaining nearly everybody with her unusual musical stylings. She has raised numerous children in that location, and had planned on doing so for several more years.

This tree was approximately forty years old and started out as a Christmas tree before aspiring to greater heights and was by all accounts healthy at the time it was murdered. Motivation for the crime is unclear, although one neighbor had complained about the shade, and another groused about needles in the gutters.

Songbirds up and down the block remember the victim as a tremendous source of seed-filled cones and abundant insect fare. "I remember getting some nice sap from that tree," says local nuthatch Lonesome Larry, "with which I smeared up the entrance to my nest box to protect my wife and kids. It was real good stuff," he went on, lamenting that it was not his fault his wife got stuck in it and nearly lost a foot. Two downy woodpeckers have threatened to peck someone's eyes out and local crows are planning a massive shit attack as soon as blame can be assigned. Scrub jays were philosophical, noting that they can hang out pretty much anywhere and bash pretty much anyone's head in, pretty much anytime they like.

The ubiquitous Eastern Gray Squirrel immigrant population, though indubitably harmed, has been given no legal standing in the case, and nobody really cares what they think.

"I'm appalled, of course," said neighbor Murr Brewster, to whom we are indebted for the photographs. Unfortunately, Ms. Brewster felt she was not able to intervene because she is small and also she had recently taken down a 15-year-old scarlet oak in her own yard, even though, as she explains, it was a shitty bird tree that nobody would even perch in, it had hardly any leaves at all if you looked at it right, and was replaced by five native vine maples. The murder suspect in the case of the Douglas fir is expected to replace his tree with a new big-ass truck, a smelly leaf-blower, and maybe a bigger-ass TV.

The mood was somber except for several tons of local carbon that danced and sang "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we're free at last," but that kind of thing goes on all night long, and the community has largely become used to the disruption.

36 comments:

  1. I encountered this scenario as I was driving home from running errands the other day, taking the scenic back roads. I was horrified. How can a person do this to a healthy tree? We have many trees in our yard, and very occasionally one has to be cut down because the roots are lifting up from too much rain, making the tree lean toward the house. We do not do it lightly, and it depresses us to do it. I am horrified, too, when Nature takes down a healthy tree (a neighbor's old crabapple felled by lightning, the branches along one side of all our pines sheered off by an ice storm.) The squirrels and birds are usually diligent about planting other trees in the empty space (usually oak, maple and mulberry, but sometimes we get a Kentucky coffee tree, mimosa or a sassafras. Even then, I must deracinate some and transplant others because they are next to the foundation of the house or under power lines.

    Unfortunately, it seems that people who love trees are in the minority.

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    1. You wouldn't believe the condition (and lean) of the tree I'm still not cutting down. Well, I'll put in that blog post soon. I think nature will take care of it this winter, probably at the expense of our gutters and south-facing windows. But the birds love it!

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    2. You don't mention that it is against the law in Portland

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    3. I had to have a permit and plant five new trees. I seriously doubt this guy had a permit.

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  2. FFS, that last photo with the small plastic cone taunting the branchless tree trunk ☹

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  3. I have relatives who live in NE Portland. I know they would not dream of cutting such a tree. I thought you had to get a permit if some sort in order to cut that kind of tree. Very sad to see.

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  4. Sigh.
    Similar murders happen here too.

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    1. People's viewpoints tend to be narrow. That applies to most people.

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  5. Oh golly, even here on the East Coast in Washington DC, there are penalties for cutting down a tree and not replacing it with something appropriate. (I'm sketchy on the regulations.) And in little 'ole Arlington County (right next door), the county has an annual Tree Give-Away for homeowners!
    Love the article, but I do have one concern: in the interest of accuracy in news reporting, were you able to obtain verification from two independent sources the fact that the homeowner in question actually *does* have "a small weiner"? All of the other descriptors used are either clearly evident or can be easily fact-checked. My concern here is that if just one statement in this article turns out to be untrue, you risk being discredited and the story being relegated to the Fake News category. (And no, if the guy is that much of a jerk, I"m *not* volunteering to do any 'fact checking'.....)

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    1. Oh sure you are. Well, back when he used to live here forty years ago (he'd been renting it out in the meantime), he was a Speedo guy. But actually--as Anne Lamott says, if you don't want to be charged with libel when you model a character after an actual person, give him a tiny penis.

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  6. The loss of a well-established but still vigorous tree is painful. I'm sorry about your A-hole neighbour.

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    1. You wouldn't want to get needles all over your big-ass truck.

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  7. I have had to euthanize several old sugar maples and it broke my heart. I have done some planting, but I would really like a copper beech. Such wondrous bark. I know I won’t live to see it bu t I can imagine it...

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    1. There's a HUGE copper beech in the Garden Club property uptown. My goodness it's gorgeous.

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  8. I certainly relate to your distress. Our backyard neighbor to the east had a crew take down four out of his five healthy trees two years ago. They were easily 60 feet tall and provided shade for us and homes and food (hickory nuts and acorns) for assorted birds and critters. He did this because he doesn’t like leaves on his lawn. Where I used to live in California, that would have cost him $10K per tree in fines, but here in Wisconsin, people are adamant about their right to do whatever they want on their own property, even if it’s stupid and environmentally damaging.

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    1. I have a feeling Property Rights and Rights Of Property Owners will be a gigantic theme not too long from now. The true costs and benefits of almost everything are defined way too narrowly.

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    2. Too lazy to rake up the leaves eh?

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    3. Just a few dry needles is all.

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  9. How very sad. Hard to understand what the motivation was.

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    1. Well, as I mentioned, I took down a fairly large oak tree, but if I'd ever seen Bird One landing in it, I'd have left it.

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  10. We have a few big old healthy elms that may be cut down for the "new and improved" highway renovation. All they really need to do is resurface the damned road, but no. They will likely replant spindly little saplings that will take several generations to get to a useful size. They are making a lot of people angry and you know, they won't like us when we are angry.

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  11. Oh, jono, I hope you can make some waves. "They" took down an oak near my home several years ago for a widening of the shoulder. It must have been at least 100 years old. I still miss the sight of it.

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    1. I can't believe our infrastructure is still being built for cars.

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  12. I'm always sad when trees are taken down, even if said trees are elderly and sickly as this one clearly wasn't. If they are replaced by another tree, that's fine, but just to leave a bare patch with no shade and no roosting/nesting spots for birds seems so wrong. I suppose the owner had his reasons for this travesty.

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    1. He might've gotten talked into the idea that it would fall on his house eventually. Of course, it could have fallen on his house if it was 70 feet away.

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  13. When I lived in Midcoast Maine I joined some friends in protesting straightening a portion of US Hwy 1 through Warren, which involved removing some beautiful trees and taking away some of the meandering country character. I even brought $50 bail money for one of them who had chained themselves to a tree. Sad that the Hwy Dept won. My son in Seattle had to remove a diseased hemlock and birch - cost him $3,000 for the tree cutters. Yikes. We had acorn woodpeckers on my street in Paso Robles, California until several months ago when a neighbor took down the dead tree they lived in. Grrr... Not sure if it was the Homeowners Association Nazis that forced it, or just a general insensitivity of the homeowner. I didn't see it happen. Just noticed that the woodpeckers were gone, and then realized why.

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  14. Dear Murr, I worked 37 years as a gardener of public places and one of my specialties was planting trees that stopped at 50 feet high along east-west highways so drivers wouldn't be blinded by California sunshine. I did the same down the 3rd to home baselines (usually used late afternoon) at high school baseball diamonds. Trees can be friends and lifesavers if we just put some thought into it.

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    1. Anything that encourages baseball is right by me.

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  15. i am ERIC BRUNT by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three(3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Akhere contact him on email: AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com
    or
    call/whatsapp:+2349057261346










    i am ERIC BRUNT by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my wife after three(3) years of marriage just because another Man had a spell on her and she left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a man had a spell on my wife and he told me that he will help me and after 3 days that i will have my wife back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my wife. Thanks for helping me Dr Akhere contact him on email: AKHERETEMPLE@gmail.com
    or
    call/whatsapp:+2349057261346

    ReplyDelete